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Pastor Ezekiel Odero to face criminal charges related to mass killing

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki has said Pastor Ezekiel Odero, the head of the New Life Prayer Centre and Church, will face criminal charges related to mass killing of his followers.

Pastor Odero was arrested on Thursday morning over suspected deaths at his church as police widen an investigation over allegations of the deaths that have been occurring at his premises.

“It is notified for information of the general public that today Thursday, 27th April 2023, Mr Ezekiel Ombok Odero the Head of New Life Prayer Centre/Church at Mavueni within Malindi Sub-County of Kilifi County has been arrested and is being processed to face criminal charges related to mass killing of his followers,” Kindiki said in a statement.

Also read: Why Pastor Ezekiel Odero has been arrested

“The said Church has been shut down. The over 100 people who were holed up at the premises have been evacuated and will be required to record statements,” Kindiki  further said.

Earlier on, Coast Regional Coordinator Rhoda Onyancha, told the press, the pastor will be questioned by detectives at the Coast Police Headquarters in Mombasa.

“We have arrested Pastor Ezekiel of the New Prayer Centre and Church at Mavueni in Kilifi County on allegations of the deaths that have been occurring at his premises and reported in various morgues or institutions,” said Ms Onyancha.

“We have also taken action and closed the prayer centre going forward,” she told reporters, without elaborating further on the nature of the allegations against Odero or his church.

Police have not connected him to Paul Mackenzie, the alleged cult leader under investigation for the deaths of 100 people linked to his church, also based in the coastal region.

Pastor Odero, dressed in his signature all-white garb and clutching a Bible, was transferred from Malindi to the regional police headquarters in Mombasa for questioning. A wealthy televangelist who draws huge crowds, Pastor Odero’s church south of Malindi can seat 40,000 people.

Also read: Arrest me if you so wish, Pastor James Ng’ang’a dares the government

His arrest comes in the wake of the discovery of mass graves at an expansive land allegedly owned by cult leader Mackenzie, whose church is based in Shakahola village, in Kilifi.

It also comes as Kenya’s policing authorities are under tough criticism for alleged negligence over cult activities that have so far claimed more than 90 lives in Shakahola village.

The self-styled preacher is accused of urging his congregants at Good News International Church to starve themselves to death as a path to God.

Most of those found in mass graves are children, and police fear the death toll could rise as their search continues. At least 22 people have so far been arrested in relation to the case.

Also read: Pastor Ben Kiengei – ‘Carry’ your brains when you go to church